Right from the very start talking with your kids pays off. Studies show that babies whose parents talk to them on a regular basis have not only superior vocabularies but also higher IQs. When the child is older communication is key to a myriad of things from effective discipline to trusting relationships. Talking to your child can strength the bond you have with them, keep them out of trouble, and be a great deal of fun.
However once a baby grows up talking to them can be more difficult. Maybe you do not know what to talk about, the subject is just difficult, or you have run out of things to talk about seemingly and resort to idle chatter such as “How was your day?”, “Do you have any homework?”. This difficulty pushes some parents to resort to ineffective methods of communication or no communication at all.
This simple step by step guide will instruct you how to talk to have meaningful conversations with your kids successfully in every situation as well as listen to them to have you both talking in no time.
Before you can ever effectively talk with your child, you need to learn to listen to your child. Listening to your kids builds their confidence, can allow you to learn a lot about them and even other things, builds a stronger relationship, and by showing respect for your child’s words you lead by example. A parent that listens to their children is more likely to have children who listen to them.
When listening to your child always be sure to listen to what they have to say first, before making assumptions. Also, make an effort to show your child you are always listening, not just when it is convenient. Even if you are busy and can’t listen to the entire missive just then, stop, look your child in the eye and acknowledge they are trying to talk to you. Then just let them know when you can listen to what they have to say. In most cases try to make time.
Finally be sure you are actively listening to your child. Active listen requires you pay close attention to what is being said. Look them in the eye, watch their body language for the unspoken language of what they are saying. Don’t just hear, listen and let it be known you are listening with gestures that convey your attention. However, don’t interrupt. When they’ve finished provide feedback or summarize what has been said. Confirm that you understood just what it was they were trying to say.
Talking with kids can be a tricky thing. You want to reflect that you respect them and that they can trust you but maintain your authority. This means a careful balance of the six ways of communicating.
These six ways are known as TENDER, or teaching, emphasizing, negotiating, do’s and don’ts, encouraging and reporting.
Teaching includes any type of communication that teaches the child something or leads them to teach themselves.
Emphasizing is similar to listening and simply requires you let the child know you understand their emotions. This type of communication is more to get the child to talk more, and less about talking.
Negotiating should not be confused with bargaining or bribing. This form of communication offers the child an option to affect the outcome of a situation but not complete control. For example, “I can’t let you do *this*, until you do *this*” The child could choose to do or not to do what you ask but you aren’t allowing them to choose the what or promising something in response to an action.
Dos and don’ts are orders. These should be clear and non-negotiable. While explaining an order will help the child understand, do not leave the subject up to debate. Remember you are the boss.
Encouraging includes both praise and reassurance. This form of communication acts as positive reinforcement and makes your child more likely to talk with you.
Reporting is the broadest form of communication. It includes:
- Statements of fact
- Common questions to start conversations
Remember to listen, be understanding, and always treat your child with the same respect you would want shown to you. Children learn primarily by example.
There are a few conversations that parents dread having with their children. Most notably, the sex talk and the drug talk.
With difficult talks, in general it is important you choose the right time. In the case of kids wait until the talk seems relevant to you. Trust your instincts on the matter. However as soon as your gut is saying, “It’s time for that talk” don’t hesitate or prolong it as by time you get the courage it may be too late.
During the talk, be understanding and honest. Treat your child as an equal. If they do open up an perhaps admit to some doings you may not approve of don’t jump to punishment. Doing so may cause your child to be hesitant to be honest and open with you later. It is okay to express your disapproval but do not punish or become angry. Talks such as these require a combination of teaching, empathizing and reporting mentioned in step two of this how to guide. You want to teach them about the subject, be empathic to their feelings on the subject as well as report your own.
Do you talk to your children regularly? Tell MommyMatter how you communicate with your children and get past the hurdle of communication blocks before it is too late!